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Sudden Anatomy

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Even The Noseless will grow nostrils if the stench is bad enough.

"On the one hand, Noah is right. On the other hand, Duncan is right. (suddenly has a third hand) On the third hand... hey! Whose hand is that?"
Owen, Total DramaRama

In a lot of comics and animation, the anatomy of living creatures tends to be simplified in a variety of ways. Some of these are common, such as people not having any discernible lips. Others are more unique to their artists or characters, like how The Powerpuff Girls are drawn without any fingers.

However sometimes the piece of anatomy that's usually missing becomes important to the story, and so a character will suddenly gain that piece of anatomy for exactly as long as they need it. For example, if characters in a series don't usually have lips, they'll suddenly sprout a pair if they need to kiss someone. Or, if they're normally drawn without eyebrows, but they're doing a Spock imitation, they'll suddenly grow some just for the Fascinating Eyebrow moment. Characters without eyelashes may sprout a pair to flutter. Characters with Black Bead Eyes may suddenly grow sclerae and irises whenever shocked or angry. One of the most common is characters with Four-Fingered Hands suddenly gaining a fifth finger, especially in closeups.

Depending on how entrenched the art style is in the audience's mind, this can seem rather jarring. And sometimes that's actually the desired effect.

Contrast Invisible Anatomy, when body parts functions even without being shown.

For the trope applied to accessories that suddenly appear on a character for a certain scene, see Instant Wristwatch.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the manga, Demon King Piccolo (who has Four-Fingered Hands) temporarily grows a fifth when he tells Goku "You shall die in five seconds". This is actually Lampshaded by the author. (In the anime, Piccolo has five fingers, so the trope is averted.)
    • Not to mention Krillin, who's drawn without a nose. It becomes an actual plot point when he's able to defeat an opponent notorious for his stench after Goku points out that Krillin can't actually smell him. By Krillin's next battle, he's somehow able to flick boogers at his new opponent.
  • In Anpanman, nearly every character has fingerless spheres for hands. However, when someone needs to do something like point at something, they'll randomly gain a finger to do so. This is especially jarring in the older episodes, where the characters will randomly gain a full five fingers, even if they aren't in need of them.
  • Goodnight Punpun: Punpun and his family are always drawn as cartoony and sketchy birds with legs. They sometimes produce hands (and hair in the case of adolescent Punpun) out of nowhere, but they also are sometimes portrayed realistically when drama calls for it: Punpun's uncle suddenly has realistic eyes when crying or making a dramatic statement, and both he and Punpun are actually drawn as normal people when they are about to have sex, to show the women undoing their belts.
  • Brook from One Piece is an undead skeleton that often jokes about body parts he no longer has, because... well, he's a skeleton. Yet...
  • Numerous Tamagotchis in Tamagotchi have Fingerless Hands, but will occasionally produce a finger to perform certain actions, such as giving a thumbs up.
    • In one episode, Kuchipatchi gains nostrils to sniff where a box of chocolate is from where he and Memetchi are standing.
  • Most characters in Aggretsuko are usually drawn with Fingerless Hands, but will gain fingers when needed. Retsuko and occasionally other characters gain more detailed hands with scary looking claws when enraged.
  • The Table of Contents of the Book of Eibon from Soul Eater doesn't have a face, but will grow one to give the exact same expression of disgust everyone pulls after spending any amount of time with Excalibur.
  • To Love Ru Darkness usually has detailed nipples on women and Barbie Doll Anatomy for men. But in chapter 17, Momo pulls up Rito's shirt to tweak and suck on his nipples, which are drawn just as explicitly as hers.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One comic issue featuring Donald Duck shows the characters experiencing a sound tremor that causes everything to vibrate, with one of the duck triplets making a comment going "If I had teeth, they would rattle". The interesting thing is that in that very panel, he does. And this is not uncommon - the Disney duck characters are drawn with teeth at many other occasions in the comics, usually gritting them or brushing them.
  • In the Fritz the Cat comics and both movies, Fritz (who wears no pants) is only... er, anatomically correct during sex scenes. The female characters, however always are.
  • The characters in Peanuts have stubby legs until/unless they have to crouch down, where they suddenly have legs that are about the right size for the rest of their bodies. Charles Schulz found he couldn't draw them with their regular sized legs while squatting.
  • Garfield was originally drawn in a style that averted this trope, specifically with Garfield's legs remaining cat-like when standing. Eventually Jim Davis devised having Garfield's legs change when standing so that this looked less awkward, and appearing like a normal cat's when sitting, invoking this trope.
  • Strangely inverted in some BIONICLE comics (first 2001 issue and some 2007 issues), where if certain characters didn't need to be holding their weapons, they were drawn without hands. There's even a panel focusing on Jaller's "fist", except the only thing that's drawn is the ball-joint at the end of his forearm.
  • Curiously inverted in the Italian comic Zannablù, where characters lose their noses when shocked or have some kind of Wild Take.

    Films — Animation 
  • B.O.B. from Monsters vs. Aliens is able to grow arms when needed. Justified in that he's a Blob Monster.
  • Verne the turtle in the movie Over the Hedge mentions his tail a lot, and it's perfectly visible whenever he turns his back. Unless he loses his shell.
  • None of the characters from Sleeping Beauty have visible irises, but when Princess Aurora finally awakens from her deep sleep at the end of the film, her eyes actually turn dark blue but turn black again during the epilogue.
  • Throughout Pinocchio the titular character lacks teeth. However he does have them in three sequences: first when he takes a bite out of a pie while at Pleasure Island, and the two times when he brays like a donkey.
  • Vakama in the third BIONICLE movie suddenly gains a white sheet of metal in his mouth to grin with when he turns evil. When he comes back to his senses, it visibly retracts into his mouth. Could be justified if the venom that had turned him bestial to begin with continued to affect and change his body depending on his mental state.
  • For a brief moment in The Aristocats, when Duchess fixes Marie's bow her paws become hands.
  • Lilo lacks teeth for most of Lilo & Stitch; they are only visible when she growls at her sister Nani and when she eats. In The Series, this is extended to include when she's grinning or scowling.
  • Pumbaa from The Lion King (1994) is shown to only have one tooth when his mouth is hanging open, but a full mouth of teeth when talking.
    • Likewise, the lion characters sprout and lose thumbs as needednote .
  • The Little Mermaid (1989):
    • As Scuttle asks Ariel "new seashells?" he for a couple of frames sports a full, toothy grin that is otherwise never seen.
    • When Sebastian walks in on Chef Louis cooking seafood during "Les Poissons", he briefly grows green irises as he gags and puts a claw over his mouth.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Sesame Street: Elmo's eyelids appear when he's sleepy.
  • When an edited puppet production needs to shown a puppet with rod hands (which can't close) holding something, they sometimes cut to a different version of the puppet with live hands (which work like gloves for the puppeteer). The other option is to simply pin the object to the puppet's hand.

    Video Games 
  • Adiboo: Magical Playland: The swing and the ball look like normal objects at first glance, but they can temporarily grow faces when interacted with.
  • The only time Guybrush Threepwood has appeared with five fingers was during the banjo duel with Van Helgen in The Curse of Monkey Island.
  • In Sonic Adventure, most characters seem to only have mouths when they're talking.
  • Some older Mortal Kombat fatalities invoke this trope (uppercutting someone's head off and continuing to uppercut more heads off the decapitated torso, multiple ribcages from exploded bodies, and so forth).
    • Same applies to most "more gore" mods in games of any genre, most notably applies to First Person Shooters.
    • X-Ray moves introduced from 9 onwards really exaggerate this, giving gory, detailed closeup shots of bones being fractured, and some even rupturing organs to the point of complete obliteration. Nothing stops you from using a second X-ray move on the enemy, whereupon whatever damage was done to them has spontaneously healed so they can do it to them again.
  • Friday Night Funkin' Lullaby: Silver's hands are drawn as simple balls in his idle pose, somewhat imitating his overworld sprite from the Generation II games. They develop four fingers in his left, down and right poses.

    Web Animation 
  • The characters on Happy Tree Friends regularly go back and forth between having four-fingered hands and hands that look like oven mitts, even within an episode.
    • They normally have featureless feet without toes, but Lumpy gained two large, hoof-like toes for one scene in "Every Litter Bit Hurts"...and then he was given three toes for a surfing scene in "Wipe Out".
    • Sniffles' mouth appears and disappears, depending on what expressions he makes.
  • Averted in Homestar Runner, where many characters have no visible arms. Rather than sprouting arms when necessary or being hindered by their character design, these characters Take a Third Option and seem to manipulate objects through telekinesis (though it's sometimes implied they simply have invisible arms).
  • Joueur du Grenier: Side material includes animatics based on (tabletop or video) gaming sessions. In these, characters' arms tend to disappear when not in use.
  • In Madness Combat 6.5, Sanford grows a mouth to show his satisfaction upon getting his Cool Shades.
  • The klaymen of Klay World, who often grow fingers just to point at or stroke each other, and don't talk with a mouth but grow one whenever they feel like chewing on something.
    • In SHED.MOV, Fluttershy is briefly seen with fingers so that she can snap them.
    • In MAGIC.MOV, Twilight is seen actually sprouting a finger out of her hoof with which to press a button.
    • In PARTY.MOV, a coked-up Pinkie Pie sprouts a toe (complete with nail polish!) to tap anxiously.
    • The Ask Jappleack tumblr makes a point of how Jappleack, possessing hooves, grabs things...Hilarity Ensues.
  • Characters (especially Joel) in Bonus Stage will often be without arms in inaction scenes. Lampshaded in the fiftieth episode, with Joel lacking arms for much of the episode:
    Joel: I'd sure love to play this. If only I had arms for this scene.
    later, after having been trapped and freed from his leg shackles
    Joel: Alright! Too bad I don’t have...
    His arms appear from the bottom of the screen and attach to his body
    Joel: Oh, there's my arms! I was looking for you guys!
  • When Object Lockdown began, Yarn had no arms. In episode two, she has arms thanks to being Off-Model, but the fully-limbed design stuck around for the rest of the series, even in the Continuity Reboot that is Object Lockout.
  • Stupid Kids: Everyone has Fingerless Hands but Dani earns a thumb and a forefinger to emphasise he is gonna fix the rat issue he caused in Ahol a méreg sem segít (Where even poison does not help).
  • In an episode of Battle for Dream Island, Book counts the contestants that have died on the journey to Yoyle Mountain on her fingers. She managed to get to eleven, all on one hand.

  • El Goonish Shive usually does not feature nostrils. However, they are shown here and here (spoiler warning). The trope is lampshaded in The Rant on both occasions.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Bun-bun is usually never drawn with a mouth. It's quite clear he has a mouth, since he chews on stuff a lot and (ahem) mouths off any time he feels like it. It used to be that you could say that for the several years of the comic's run so far, his mouth had only been drawn a small handful of times. As of 2015, it could be said that it does happen now and then, but the total number of times ever is still probably considerably less than the number of years the comic has run.
  • MS Paint Adventures: The characters tend not to have visible arms unless they're using them. This birthed the running gag of "quickly retrieve arms", generally producing a response to the tune of "You've already got arms, numbnuts!"
  • In City of Reality, Mayor Rabbit's arms seem to just mysteriously disappear whenever he's not using them.
  • In Scandinavia and the World, the characters are drawn without arms, except when they need to make gestures or hold things.
  • Characters in UG Madness are usually drawn without fingers (there are two guest comics that poke fun at this), but will suddenly have them if they need to point at something.
  • The Order of the Stick has the hands of its stick-figure characters go from three lines for fingers to recognizable fists when someone punches another person.
  • In Rescuing Dara, Dara only has arms when she's using them, which seems to be a trait of her species, as seen in this sprite animation from the Pokemon games.
  • Orbit invokes then immediately lampshades it.
    Theia: He broke my neck!
    Mars: Then you should try— Wait, your what?
  • The Bedfellows:
    • In the animations, the characters normally don't have toes on their feet, but in the "Don't Touch My Stuff" and "Gary" cartoons, they suddenly gain toes and soles in a few shots.
    • This early comic shows that Sheen has pads on his feet in a closeup, although they disappeared in others.
    • Sheen, Fatigue and Fatigue's Mom all have toes though out the Christmas Episode. The style has stuck on since then.
  • In Rain, Maria is always drawn without ears (excluding a Print Bonus) until she pulls back her hair to reveal multiple earrings. Lampshaded by Rain saying she doesn't think she's ever seen Maria's ears before.
  • In Selfie Bee the titular bee has no nose, but one appears whenever she is in an awkward situation (usually in the last panel).

  • Nobody Here: While Jogchem's Author Avatar is normally just a silhouette, he will actually show some of his appearance if required. Examples include his hip and hand in "Fat", his hand again in "Memo", his teeth in "Grind", and the titular body parts in "Toes", "Ears", "Eye", "Nose" and "Hand".

    Western Animation 
  • Several characters in Hilda have this trait regarding their mouths, including Twig, the Great Raven, the Trolls, etc.
  • In the Van Beuren Studios Molly Moo Cow cartoons, Molly's feet (which look more like bun shaped boots than actual hooves) can turn into hands whenever the situation calls for it.
  • One episode of The Simpsons had a B-plot where Homer couldn't remember what color Marge's eyes were, and she refused to take off a pair of sunglasses until he could remember. However, since their eyes are always drawn as simply a black dot in the middle of a white orb, the audience had no clue what color Marge's eyes were either. At the very end of the episode, though, the camera zooms in on Marge's eyes to reveal a thin hazel-colored iris. The idea here seems to have been, yes, Simpsons characters do have irises, it's just that they're so small we can't see them outside of an extreme closeup. In another episode, a boy hits on Lisa by calling her "Blue-Eyes".
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Mandy is always drawn without a nose. Her lack of nose is even an important plot point in one episode. However, when Billy briefly takes over Mandy's body, he decides to pick her nose, and when he does nostrils suddenly appear on her face in order to allow it. Only the nostrils, though.
    • This is also the case when Mandy sniffs Billy's stink bomb in "The Really Odd Couple" (as pictured above).
  • Looney Tunes
    • In "Rabbit of Seville", Bugs Bunny is drumming on Elmer's head as if playing a piano. A close-up shows that Bugs' normally Four-Fingered Hands now have five fingers, because the piano piece couldn't be shown accurately otherwise.
    • Gossamer's arms appear from and disappear into his body as needed.
    • In "High Diving Hare" after Yosemite Sam pushes Bugs off the diving board Bugs grows a pair of toe claws to catch onto the board; this is the first and only time we ever see them.
  • In the Dilbert TV series, characters that normally have No Mouth suddenly develop one whenever they need to say something, and it then disappears as soon as they stop. In the comic, Dilbert's mouth is only visible when he's gritting his teeth or shouting.
  • The VeggieTales characters. It started out avoiding obvious manipulation of objects, but as time went on and available plots where this was still an option got used up, the animators started fudging. Especially amusing is the fact that in the original opening, Larry points out that he can't play the guitar because he doesn't have hands... and in the "Silly Songs With Larry" segment of Lord of the Beans, which was released in 2005, guess what we see him do. In 2010, the opening sequence was given a major overhaul (new animation, new recording of the song) that finally takes out that joke.
    • See also the Flash-animated spinoff Larry-Boy series, where the animators came up with every excuse they could to let the characters physically manipulate things: Larry-Boy's utility belt has robot arms for every gadget, Professor Bok Choy wears a robe with empty sleeves to hold his pointer, various villains either have natural or technological arms, and a scientist was shown wearing a levitating "empty" glove.
    • Lampshaded in "Dr. Jiggle and Mr. Sly", with Scooter supposedly seeing hallucinations of hands and feet.
  • South Park
    • Most of the kids in only have eyebrows when making certain expressions such as anger or sadness. Most of the adults, however, always have visible eyebrows, as well as some additional facial features.
    • The kids have no visible fingers just thumbs usually, however whenever they need to emphasize something or hold on to something they have them. Most of them don't have ears or noses either but sometimes they appear suddenly when they use them only to disappear seconds later. For example, they suddenly gain noses when they are shown pressing their faces up against the glass.
    • In "A Very Crappy Christmas", when Stan does an impression of Cartman, he suddenly has a double-chin just like Cartman has.
    • Stan was also noted to have blue eyes once, even though the characters usually don't have discernible irises.
    • When Kenny gets an eye pulled out by a turkey in "Starvin' Marvin", his eye is shown to have a visible blue iris.
    • Canadians have a whole different set of Missing/Sudden Anatomy.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • In "Criss Cross Crisis", Buttercup, realizing she's in Professor Utonium's body, flexes the fingers on the Professor's hands (Buttercup's usual body has no fingers). In the accompanying closeup, Four-Fingered Hands is averted (like in the Bugs Bunny example above).
    • "Mr. Mojo's Rising" features a dramatic close up of the Professor's eyes as he's remembering when (Mojo) Jojo was his lab assistant and he suddenly has both irises and eyelashes.
  • In Garfield Goes Hollywood, when the announcer says that a dog can play five instruments at once he grows an extra finger to emphasize this, the fifth finger disappears seconds later.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • It is often pointed out that Patrick doesn't have a nose but, in "Wet Painters", after seeing Spongebob make a paintbrush with some nose hairs he suddenly gains a nostril and produces a giant mess of nose hairs. In "Battle of Bikini Bottom" he makes himself grow one in order to fling boogers at SpongeBob.
      • Whether Patrick only has just arms or arms that end in mitten-like hands depends on the episode, but he's perfectly capable of sprouting fingers whenever he needs to point at something.
    • Squidward, Patrick, and SpongeBob have grown hair on more than one occasion.
    • There's an infamous scene in the episode "House Fancy" where Squidward suddenly gains a toenail which he accidentally removes. Some close-ups in other episodes also show one of his lower tentacles looking like a regular foot.
    • In the episode "Sailor Mouth," SpongeBob counts the swear words on his fingers during Mr. Krabs' Cluster Bleep-Bomb, announcing that Mr. Krabs' said all thirteen bad words, holding up his hands with six fingers on one and seven on the other. The extras go away after the gag is over. Earlier in the episode, Squidward grows a large human ear after he hears SpongeBob uttering a swear word over the intercom, and is seen tucking it back into his head in the next shot.
    • While Squidward usually wears no pants, being a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal, in "The Lost Mattress", he's able to put a wooden spoon he finds into a pouch of flesh on the small of his back that spontaneously appears to act as a pocket.
  • In an episode of Camp Lazlo involving serial pantsing, the Long Pants the characters usually wore became well-defined shorts just seconds before they were pulled down.
  • Phineas and Ferb's Perry the Platypus only has teeth when he wants to bare them.
    • According to the "Learn to Draw Phineas and Ferb" book, Isabella has no eyebrows and is sensitive about it. Despite this, she is occasionally depicted with eyebrows.
  • One episode of CatDog played this for laughs by having Cat hold up seven fingers. The two would also constantly switch from having paws, when walking, to having hands for everything else.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
    • Whenever a character with Fingerless Hands needs to hold something, they will gain fingers for that scene only.
    • When Gumball is listening to something across a room in "The Robot", he suddenly grows a large human-like ear on the side of his head and the cat ears he normally has on the back/top of his head disappear.
    • When he gets a perm in "The End", Gumball suddenly has blond head hair separate from his blue fur.
    • Principal Brown has a nose slide out of his face in "The Fraud" for the sake of Nose Tapping.
    • In "The Spoiler", Gumball wonders if he could get money for movie tickets by selling one of his nipples and pulls up his shirt. His chest has dark circles for nipples in this scene but Barbie Doll Anatomy in every other.
    • Clayton and Masami gain arms when they need them. Masami also farted out some legs in “The Gift”.
    • Darwin grew Clare’s hair in “The Others”.
    • Gumball kept growing arms to try to keep Felicity from seeing parts of Tina in “The Blame”, and in “The Box”, Anais grows another arm to stop Gumball from opening Mr. Robinson’s package.
  • While not a human, Bender of Futurama tends to suddenly have plugs, switches, buttons and other devices on his body whenever a joke calls for it. Likewise, both Zoidberg and Kif's bodies gain or lose abilities depending on the situation.
    • Lampshaded in the "Into The Wild Green Yonder" commentary - at a poker tournament, Leo Wong holds up five fingers to indicate Bender's five kings.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Unlike the usual case, this is done constantly and subtly with eyebrows in the show, which for most characters only appear when an expression requires them.
    • The ponies lack shoulders: their front legs simply emerge from their torso. In the last few seconds of "Canterlot Boutique", an extra shrugs, gaining a pair of prominent shoulders in the process and losing them just as quickly.
    • Played for Laughs, in a creepy kind of way, in "Too Many Pinkie Pies" when Pinkie inflates air into one of her front hooves, causing fingers to pop out of it.
    • In "A Friend in Deed", as Pinkie says "I put two and two and two together..." she illustrates it by holding up six hooves. Then "Hearthbreakers" exaggerates the gag when Pinkie counts "Nineteen new friendships!" and holds up nineteen hooves to illustrate.
  • Frosty the Snowman has Four-Fingered Hands, but sprouts a fifth finger when he tries to count.
  • Done often in Adventure Time, usually with eyebrows in a wide range of styles or chin hair on Finn for humor/emotion. Marceline also picks her nose, once by growing one and another time with her apparently invisible one.
    • Finn usually has Four-Fingered Hands, but when a wizard is handing out power rings, he suddenly has extra fingers so he can wear ten of them. Finn also has ten fingers when making Air Quotes in "His Hero".
  • Mr. Messy from The Mr. Men Show has arms that appear and disappear into his body if needed.
  • Like The Lion King example, the puppies in 101 Dalmatians: The Series will gain thumbs when needed, though it seems to depend on the episode.
  • Snap from ChalkZone is usually drawn with Fingerless Hands, but the original eight shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons had him gain fingers and a thumb when needed. This stopped once the shorts became a full series; however, there were a few episodes where it came up again.
  • The main duo from Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi grow a fifth finger whenever it is needed to make a joke work.
  • One Scooby-Doo cartoon featured a giant eagle as the Monster of the Week. At one point, it crash lands and sprouts teeth so it has something to grit as it drags along the ground, but then comes the Robotic Reveal...
  • On Class of 3000, Eddie suddenly has five-fingered hands for one joke and has Four-Fingered Hands like everyone else the rest of the time.
  • In an episode of Kaeloo, Kaeloo needs to count to the number nine on her fingers. Since she has Four-Fingered Hands, she grows a third arm.
  • Usually, the characters in Bob's Burgers aren't shown with visible teeth, but there are exceptions with Tina's zombies and when a character has an open-mouthed smile. Those exceptions are rare or seldom otherwise.
  • Besides MLP: FiM, other shows would make their characters have eyebrows for specific expressions. (Notes are provided below for what these exactly are.)
    • All characters in Archibald the Koala.note 
    • Characters in Poppy Cat.note 
    • Some characters on Bali.note 
    • Characters on Doug.note 
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): The characters explicitly don't have fingers or noses, yet there are multiple gags where they randomly gain fingers.
  • In Mickey Mouse S 1 E 13 Potatoland, when Goofy is counting the number of times he drove past the sign for Potatoland, he declares it was 14 and a half times, as he holds up his hands, which now have seven full fingers and a thumb on one hand and seven and a half fingers and a thumb on the other.
  • Omi from Xiaolin Showdown is usually drawn without a nose, but when he comments that Jack smells like a monkey in "Year Of The Green Monkey", he gains one.
  • On Pete the Cat, Pete is normally depicted without a mouth, but gains one when speaking or singing. The characters are also normally depicted with no eyebrows, but gain Disembodied Eyebrows to show surprise or shock.
  • Stimpy from Ren & Stimpy is normally depicted without toes. Only rarely is he depicted with them.
  • In Total Drama, everyone is usually drawn with four fingers. But in season 2 of the reboot, when Julia suggests voting off Chase in a confessional, she is drawn with five fingers when counting the contestans who would vote for him.


Video Example(s):


Julia's fifth finger

Julia suddenly has a fifth finger when she counts the votes she's gathering today. She's surprised when she notices it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (35 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuddenAnatomy

Media sources: